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05 Feb 2006 09:46
Coach Andy Robinson hailed England’s strength in depth as they overpowered defending champions Wales 47-13 in their opening Six Nations match in London at Twickenham on Saturday.
Lawrence Dallaglio, back after 17 months in self-imposed international exile, was one of six England try scorers as the hosts gained revenge for Wales’ 11-9 win in Cardiff last year.
England, leading 15-10 at half-time, accelerated after the break, scoring a further 32 points as Wales folded in the last 20 minutes.
The only cloud for England was a shoulder injury to fullback Josh Lewsey who went off after 20 minutes.
Dallaglio’s score came during his second stint on the pitch, and arose from an England five-yard scrum.
The England forwards pushed Wales, who had coped well in the set piece, back and the former captain touched down.
England used their entire bench, with Tom Voyce, Matt Dawson and Dallaglio all scoring as replacements.
Dallaglio came on for a second time with 18 minutes left when he replaced captain Martin Corry but Robinson warned people not to read too much into the move.
“What pleased me was, not just Lawrence, but the way the whole bench made an impact.
“He has had a rib injury and and I thought it was the right thing to do to give him that time off because we are playing Italy next weekend. I did the same with Charlie Hodgson—we have a good bench and one of the things we looked at was our ability to use it.”
Mike Tindall’s try following a smart long pass from Charlie Hodgson had made the game safe for England on the hour and following Dallaglio’s score Matt Dawson and Tom Voyce ran in for touchdowns.
Wales had their moments, notably through the work of Shane Williams and skipper Gareth Thomas but managed just one score, before half-time through flanker Martyn Williams.
However, Williams blotted his copybook when he was sinbinned in the 52nd minute for deliberate obstruction but Wales held firm when he was off the pitch.
England took firm control of the match in the final quarter to leave Wales still waiting for their first win at Twickenham since 1988.
Welsh coach Mike Ruddock said: “The crucial moment was when Martyn got sinbinned. With 14 men on the pitch we started to hurt against a very strong England side and they really started to make us work.
“We are not using it as an excuse but it gave us a mountain to climb and we could not climb it. They put us to the sword. Our pride has been dented.”
Ruddock also reported that Gareth Cooper sustained a serious shoulder injury that could put him out of the rest of the tournament.
Dallaglio only had to wait six minutes before making his first international appearance since captaining England’s disastrous tour of the southern hemisphere in the summer of 2004.
Given a hero’s welcome by the Twickenham crowd he made an immediate impression after coming on as a blood replacement for club mate Joe Worsley.
England scored first on 14 minutes when Hodgson fed Jamie Noon, who straightened the line before unleashing Mark Cueto.
The winger sprinted in from 25m and Hodgson potted a simple conversion.
Stephen Jones reduced the arrears with a penalty, after some good Welsh pressure, but after Hodgson had replied with a penalty of his own England had their best period of the first half.
Harry Ellis made a sharp break from half way, unloaded to captain Martin Corry and when the move died on the Wales 22m line England were awarded a penalty well within Hodgson’s range but England kicked for touch.
They won a line out and after a powerful forward drive Lewis Moody—sent off in his last England appearance against Samoa in the autumn—touched down for his ninth try in 35 tests.
Wales’ only try came in the 33rd minute when a smart break by Dwayne Peel put Martyn Williams away but it was a fleeting moment of joy. - AFP
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